Church members are helping clear away wreckage in Woodward and Stratford, Iowa, following nine tornadoes that ravaged the small towns Nov. 12.
All members and missionaries are safe after the storms, classified as F-2 on the Fujita scale with winds reaching nearly 150 mph. At least 40 homes were destroyed in Woodward, population 1,200, along with as many as 30 in and around Stratford, a town of 750.
"We have had very warm temperatures for this time of year so when the cold front pushed through it kicked up tornadoes in the Ames Iowa Stake," said Bishop Jim Dick of the Fort Dodge Ward.
The disaster hit while most of the priesthood leaders in the stake were attending the priesthood session of stake conference. They evacuated to the halls the safest part of the building. After the tornado warnings stopped, they resumed the conference only to be evacuated again, said stake President Joseph Cheney.
"The priesthood leadership meeting was an abbreviated one," said President Cheney. "But it gave us a great opportunity to learn about preparation as well."
After the storms, Church leaders assessed members' needs no members' homes sustained major damage and then immediately looked to the community. "I believe the Lord wants us to be prepared to take care of our own needs, but also He wants us to take care of others' needs as well," said President Cheney.
In response to the disaster, the Church donated $10,000 to the local chapter of the American Red Cross and plywood and nails to the Webster County Emergency Management, and members have volunteered to help with clean-up efforts.
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